Dubai landlord tries to prove he evicted tenant to sell property, not to re-let

Mario Volpi advises a landlord who ran into financial difficulty, but now doesn't need to sell his villa which has been vacated.
Mario Volpi helps a Dubai landlord who evicted his tenant with a view to selling the property, but wants to re-let it. Pawan Singh / The National
Mario Volpi helps a Dubai landlord who evicted his tenant with a view to selling the property, but wants to re-let it. Pawan Singh / The National

I have two villas in Dubai that have been tenanted. About 18 months ago, I came into some financial difficulty so needed to liquidate one of my two properties. I decided to sell the smaller of the two villas and hold on to the bigger one. After the tenant of the smaller villa refused to move out, I sent him a notarised letter asking him to vacate for the purpose of selling the villa in 12 months. About six months after that, the tenant of my bigger villa was transferred overseas so my bigger villa was vacant and since I needed the money badly, I sold it. Now the tenant of the smaller villa has just vacated it, and since my other villa is sold, I don’t really need to or want to sell the smaller villa.

When I sent the notarised letter to the tenant 12 months ago, he was obviously very angry and our landlord/tenant relation broke down so we hardly ever spoke after that. Before the expiry of the contract, I didn’t ask him if he was interested to renew the contract as I didn’t like his attitude towards me. I was very clear that I needed to sell only because I needed the money. But he didn’t believe me.

My question is that if I rent the villa again, he will definitely find out as he has made it very clear to me that he will go to court if I rent the villa to someone else. Property agents have different views about my scenario and when I went to the rent committee about this, they were not sure what the outcome from the judge would be. I can show the committee that I had to sell and did sell the other property and that my situation has since changed. I do not need to sell now but 12 months ago, I needed to. I do not want to be stuck in any situation with the law so would appreciate a clear answer to my predicament. KN, Dubai

My advice to you would be to get in touch with the outgoing tenant to explain exactly what happened and ask if he would like to move back in. I know you said that the relations had broken down but you also mentioned that he would cause you trouble (go to the courts). If you did relet the property he will find out sooner or later. It is better to be transparent in this situation. There could be a possibility that he will still look to you for some sort of compensation, for example moving costs.

You will then also know if he is or is not interested in moving back in. Either way you will then be sure that he will not go to the rent committee as you will be able to prove your story given the fact that you have tried to rectify the situation with the tenant.

My commercial property lease expires on July 31 and he has just called to say he is giving me notice as he wishes to move back into the property. Am I right in saying he needs to give me 12 months notice even though it’s the first year of the tenancy? I did not get around to registering with Ejari and I don’t think the agent did so on my behalf either. I don’t wish to cause any bad-will with the landlord but I have spent thousands setting up the office and it’s extremely inconvenient to move out now. LW, Dubai

Your landlord has to give you the 12 months’ notice in the prescribed way ie by notary public or registered mail. This is the only legal way to give the notice. If the landlord wishes to move back into the premises, this is allowed but he also has to prove he does not own another suitable property. If once you vacate, you subsequently find out that the landlord has relet it to someone else then you should open a case at the rental committee whereby you will be entitled to compensation. The landlord will not be able to relet the commercial property to another tenant for a period of three years from the date you vacated. You must register the tenancy agreement at Ejari for you to be able to open a case.

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Prestige Real Estate in Dubai (prestigedubai.com). He has 30 years of property industry experience in the emirate and London. Send any questions to mario@prestigedubai.com

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate independent legal advice

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Published: May 28, 2014 04:00 AM

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